Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Question from Ross Perot's office - in Texas

From: "Libby Craft"

I am trying to find a photograph of a punch ticket used by the conductor to keep track of the passengers. The ticket had male and female images and details such as color of hair and eyes. Do you have any resource ... person, book, etc., that might have a photo of this item? It was used in the 1880's. ...

Libby Craft
The Perot Group, Plano, TX

Photographic punch ticket


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

We have read that 19th century railroad punch tickets that described the passenger using punch holes were the inspiration for the Hollerith punch cards used in the census that were the mechanical forerunners of electronic computers. We've been looking for an example for years, but have not yet been successful in finding one. ...

3/09/2011 2:22 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Libby Craft"

... Mr. Perot has funded a computer history museum at our company headquarters and we have a featured display on Herman Hollerith, hence the interest in the punch photograph. I have searched for over 5 years and have not located anything. However, someone recently sent the [above] image which meets the criteria (although less detail than I anticipated) but it is for a streetcar line. From a lengthy telephone conversation with Mr. Hollerith's granddaughter, I learned that the trolley car line in Georgetown (DC) ended very close to his workshop where the original tabulating machines were built. Through an agreement with the trolley company, when they shut down at night, he 'plugged" into their electrical system to test his electro-mechanical machines, since electricity was not readily available in the 1880s.

The punch photograph is a great story, but I have wondered if perhaps it took on a life of its' own over the past 130 years. It is easy for me to visualize Mr. Hollerith with an engineering/inventor's mind, educated at MIT, looking at something like the attached and 'thinking' what if we add other personal characteristics for the conductor to punch, that would provide a 'photograph' of his passengers. Then translating this thinking to punch cards. ...

—Libby Craft

3/10/2011 12:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Noticed that your 'photographic' trolley transfer ticket is marked "Pat. applied for" so did some Google searches for 19th century Railway Ticket patents and found three patents that claim "description of the purchaser".

Railway Ticket with "description of the purchaser":

RAILWAY-TICKET WILLIAM II et al, #426849, Apr 29, 1890

RAILWAY-TICKET GEORGE A. HIKKLE, #639572, Dec 19, 1899

EOBBET ISBELL HAMPTON, #380566, Apr 3, 1888

3/10/2011 1:40 PM  

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